We spend much of our time talking about trivial matters and practical ones -- the weather, plans for the day, routine office events, frivolous gossip, the new movie, canned jokes, the latest shopping acquisition, the next technological miracle, stock-market shifts. Chitchat, the everyday wins and losses. So little of our conversation addresses our passions, loves, emotions, dreams, or our creative insights and soul stirrings.
An effective strategy for tuning our awareness to the frequency of soul is to minimize everyday conversation that separates us from the here and now and from what is truly meaningful. This can be a rather challenging discipline. Sometimes it seems almost everything in our culture conspires to distance us from heart and soul. So many messages are ads, trying to sell us something of questionable usefulness while ruthlessly pandering to our vanity, insecurity, or unhappiness -- new toys, fashion, entertainment, or insurance against the inevitabilities of life. Few people ask the bigger questions.
Superficial Conversation and Small Talk
Constant superficial conversation keeps us from noticing what's going on with us emotionally or spiritually or in our bodies. Small talk alienates us from ourselves -- perhaps a purpose as well as a result.
Surrendering an addiction to nonstop chatter is hard enough. Should we succeed, we then face a greater challenge: the internal dialogue. Our minds are in constant motion, fretting about the future and second-guessing the past. This endless cognitive activity keeps us well rehearsed in our current worldview and lifestyle: safe (or so we might think). In order to approach the deeper truths of soul, we must quiet the inner chatter. Meditation practice is one way. Another path to inner peace is the discipline of sacred speech and silence.
Sacred speech is conversation that deepens. It deepens relationship and enhances the fullness of our presence wherever we are and whomever we are with. It is dialogue centered in what exists here and now between us. We speak from the heart and address what truly matters -- our feelings, imagery, dreams, life purpose, our relationships, soul stories, our discoveries of how we project aspects of self onto others or learn to withdraw those projections, and our meetings with remarkable humans, animals, plants, and places. There is no requirement that such conversation be solemn or hushed. The sacred is often funny as well. We laugh at our oh-so-human foibles and the jokes life plays on us every day. The more real our conversations become, the more alive we become, the more we want to scream or shout or cry.
Silence and Sacred Speech Nourish the Soul
Silence with others is, of course, the natural complement to sacred speech. Too often we attempt to fill every social moment with chatter as if we are terrified of the silence between us. Often we are; we're scared of who or what might jump into the conversation, the voices from below or behind. So we might make it a practice, from time to time, to express our preference for and enjoyment of silence when in the presence of others, especially after we have already spoken of the meaningful things.
A regular diet of sacred speech and silence nourishes the soul and opens the door to soul encounter. Gradually, our everyday consciousness shifts.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
New World Library. ©2003.
This article was excerpted from:
Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche
by Bill Plotkin, Ph.D.
Written for people in search of their true selves – in particular those on the verge of adulthood and those at a major crossroads such as divorce or career change – Soulcraft provides a means of personal growth and self-empowerment. Exercises and insightful stories explain how to discover one’s unique gift, or "soul purpose," to be shared with others. Drawing on ancient traditions, this vision quest serves as a modern rite of initiation.
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About the Author
Bill Plotkin, PhD, has been a psychotherapist, research psychologist, rock musician, river runner, professor of psychology, and mountain-bike racer. As a research psychologist, he studied dreams and nonordinary states of consciousness achieved through meditation, biofeedback, and hypnosis. The founder and president of Animas Valley Institute, he has guided thousands of people through initiatory passages in nature since 1980. Currently an ecotherapist, depth psychologist, and wilderness guide, he leads a variety of experiential, nature-based individuation programs. Visit Bill Plotkin online at www.natureandthehumansoul.com.